The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

James Robinson

Second Advisor

Isolde Mueller

Third Advisor

Trista Baldwin

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


This study aims to investigate the perspective of ESL teachers on idioms in language teaching and learning. It looks into three major points that make idioms such an obstacle to English learners: a) the difficulty of idioms including comprehension and usage, b) language connection with culture, and c) methods of teaching idioms.

In this study, I surveyed ten native and nonnative English teachers (3 males and 7 females) whose ages ranged from 21 to 45 and older. All the participants were from the Intensive English Center IEC at St. Cloud State University SCSU. The survey consisted of eight open ended questions. It asked participants to write about their perspectives of teaching English idioms, the role idioms play in teaching ESL students, and the participants’ methods of teaching idioms. Participants were asked to elaborate on their answers with the help of examples and situations from their experiences in the survey.

The results of the study show that all teachers without exceptions agreed that idioms play an important role in ELT which is a significant finding; the frequency of idioms magnifies their importance. Also, 70% of the participants agreed that idioms are difficult for ESL learners; however, 30% native teachers had contrasting opinions. That is, the difficulty of idioms lies in using them correctly. Participants agreed unanimously that there is a strong connection between idioms and culture. Participants understand the influence of culture on the profession. With regard to idiom teaching methodology, more than half the participants preferred to combine the explicit and the implicit approached to teach idioms in their classes. Two of the four remaining participants preferred the explicit approach and two preferred the implicit approach. Moreover, 60% of the teachers in the study found that teaching literary terms to ESL learners is beneficial because understanding one aspect of language helped them understand other aspects.